18 Mar 2016

"Disregard distance". That is, when I'm considering whether or not to do something, I ignore how far away it is.

This has led to some odd results. I've travelled from Bermondsey to Hammersmith for a house party that was nearly over by the time I got there. I've hammered out from Hampstead to Battersea for an acquaintance's barbeque. I once cycled 17 miles each way to cook someone dinner.

But it's nearly always been worth it. This rule is my way of countering the cognitive bias that tends to place too much weight on travel time. (It also helps that I have a teleporter [1])

I'm experimenting with adding a second rule: "Disregard duration". That is, when considering whether or not to improve something, disregard how long the improvements will last.

This is a reaction to an environment in which every improvement is temporary. Given the instability of London's rental market, plus Australia trips, I effectively move house, on average, 2-3 times a year.

It's hard to get motivated even to organise my sock drawer, let alone make a place truly liveable. What's the point? I'm leaving soon.

But I suspect that that's another cognitive bias. A ten-minute fix that saves ten seconds a day reaches breakeven in two months - it's worth it, even if it doesn't feel like it. Plus, there are not-entirely-rational but still very real benefits associated with creating an atmosphere of improvement and feeling empowered.

Our landlord is moving back in on May 15. But I just repaired the sticking latch on the back gate, anyway.

fn1 The bike travels instantly: if it takes an hour to cycle somewhere, it saves me an hour of exercise that I'd otherwise have had to do, so the net time is zero.